Pesto Chicken Manicotti

This tasty Pesto Chicken Manicotti is baked in a creamy alfredo sauce and then topped with fresh basil pesto!

This tasty Pesto Chicken Manicotti is baked in a creamy alfredo sauce and then topped with fresh basil pesto!Do you guys know who had the #1 best-selling CD of 2016?  Hint: It’s not Adele…or Bieber…or Beyonce.  In fact, if you don’t already know, then I promise you’ll be guessing for a long, long time on this one.  One of the first things we learned about Robbie is that he likes music.  He has a particular affinity for bluegrass (not kidding!), but honestly he likes it all.  And of course we use this to our advantage.  

This tasty Pesto Chicken Manicotti is baked in a creamy alfredo sauce and then topped with fresh basil pesto!We have a little portable speaker that connects wirelessly to our phones, and at any given time you can find Robbie cruising along holding that speaker.  Sometimes it’s pumping out bluegrass, but Mom and Dad have grown a bit tired of that one, so Journey has made an appearance or two on his speaker lately.  (Can you guess who was controlling Pandora at the time?)  Over the weekend, though, we re-discovered the music channels on tv.  You know the ones, right?  They’re all of those high channels in the cable package.  They just play commercial-free all day which is great for Robbie.  It’s also great for us because it keeps our phones free for more important things.  Like Candy Crush (*looks at Laura*) or Clash of Clans (*ahem* me *ahem*).

We had the classical music channel on the other morning, and it was actually pretty nice.  I was reading some of the fun trivia that pops up on the screen about the current song, and that’s when I discovered the #1 best-selling CD of 2016.  Spoiler alert: It was indeed classical.  Curious who?  Mozart.  Dead serious.  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had the #1 best-selling CD of 2016.

This tasty Pesto Chicken Manicotti is baked in a creamy alfredo sauce and then topped with fresh basil pesto!So how did a guy who died 225 years ago top the list in 2016?  That’s where a bit of fuzzy math (i.e. math for non-engineers) comes in.  You see, a new box set featuring every known piece of Mozart’s music was released last year.  In case you’re wondering, that’s about 240 hours of music.  The box set includes 200 CD’s.  Yes, 200.  Billboard counts every album in a box set as an individual sale, which means it only took 6,250 sales of Mozart’s box set to catapult him to the top of the list ahead of Adele, Bieber and everyone else in 2016.  However, that box set isn’t cheap.  Amazon sells the set for about $500.

So while Robbie was cruising around listening to classical music and playing with his new barnyard toy set, I got into the kitchen to make some dinner.  We have a lot (a lot!) of pesto in our freezer right now, so I figured some sort of pesto pasta dish was in order.  (Each year, I take the basil from the garden and turn it into pesto bombs.  So we always have a ready supply of homemade pesto for pasta, soups, etc.)  I also happened to have some leftover rotisserie chicken.  And that’s how this Pesto Chicken Manicotti was born!

This tasty Pesto Chicken Manicotti is baked in a creamy alfredo sauce and then topped with fresh basil pesto!Manicotti is such a fun pasta dish.  Sure, manicotti (like lasagna) takes a bit of time to make as you have to fill each shell.  But it makes a nice big batch, so it’ll feed a crowd.  Or it’ll make leftovers for a couple of days.  (We love leftovers around here for busy weeknights!)  This Pesto Chicken Manicotti was a huge hit.  We served up two manicotti each and then loaded our plates with a side of roasted broccoli.

This tasty Pesto Chicken Manicotti is baked in a creamy alfredo sauce and then topped with fresh basil pesto!One tip about making this Pesto Chicken Manicotti is to just use your hands to fill the manicotti.  Usually I use a pastry bag or a large sandwich bag to fill manicotti shells, but this filling was a little more difficult due to the shredded rotisserie chicken.  I just found it easier to get in there and use my hands to fill each shell.  Just a handy tip to file away in case you make this manicotti.  And for the record, this Pesto Chicken Manicotti goes really well with a glass of wine and some Mozart.  Cheers!

This tasty Pesto Chicken Manicotti is baked in a creamy alfredo sauce and then topped with fresh basil pesto!

Pesto Chicken Manicotti

This tasty Pesto Chicken Manicotti is baked in a creamy alfredo sauce and then topped with fresh basil pesto!
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 20 minutes
1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 660kcal

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. uncooked manicotti pasta shells ~14-15 shells
  • 1 medium white onion diced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 10-oz package frozen spinach, thawed
  • 3 cups chicken cooked and shredded (see note)
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 1 15-oz container ricotta cheese (~1¾ cups)
  • cups mozzarella cheese shredded and divided
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • 1 tsp Italian seasonings
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 16-oz jar alfredo sauce
  • cup basil pesto homemade or store-bought
  • {Optional} Fresh basil chopped

Instructions

  • {Optional, but recommended} Drain the ricotta for several hours before making this recipe. (Tip: Just put a piece of cheesecloth in a colander. Put the ricotta on top and let it drain for a few hours.)
  • Place the diced onions and olive oil in a large sauté pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 4-5 minutes, or until onions begin to turn soft. Add garlic and cook for 2-3 more minutes, stirring often.
  • Squeeze as much liquid out of the spinach as possible. Chop spinach finely.
  • Transfer onions and garlic into a large bowl. Add egg, ricotta, 1 cup of mozzarella, Parmesan, Italian seasonings, salt, pepper, spinach and cooked chicken to the bowl. Stir until well mixed.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Using a large bowl, mix the alfredo sauce with ¾ cup of water. Spread 1 cup of this mixture across bottom of 9”x13” baking dish; set remaining mixture aside.
  • Using a spoon (or your hands), fill the uncooked manicotti with this mixture. Place filled manicotti in baking dish.
  • Pour remaining alfredo sauce over manicotti.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 375°F.
  • Uncover and sprinkle remaining ½ cup of mozzarella cheese on top. Bake (uncovered) for 5-10 more minutes, or until cheese has fully melted.
  • Place a spoonful of pesto on top of each manicotti before serving.
  • {Optional} Sprinkle with freshly chopped basil before serving.

Notes

To save time, feel free to use chopped rotisserie chicken in place of the cooked + shredded chicken!

This tasty Pesto Chicken Manicotti is baked in a creamy alfredo sauce and then topped with fresh basil pesto!

 

Looking for another fun pesto pasta dish?  This Pesto Pasta with Grilled Chicken is a staple in our house…and it can be served either hot or cold!

This Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken is an easy and delicious weeknight meal. Serve it cold as a summer pasta salad or hot as a delicious winter entree!

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15 Comments

  1. David, I sure do enjoy the stories you weave into your recipe posts and this one took me on a ride down memory lane – When Lil Shashi learned to walk, she used to cruise around with a mini boombox with Shubert playing on it! There were so many times when the batteries died when she ‘d try and wedge those baby proof thingies out of the plug points in the wall so she could plug in her boom box – gawsh – I remember contemplating super gluing those plastic proofers down as I was so scared she’d electrocute herself when I had my back turned! She sure loved her Shubert – and she’d surely love these manicotti – reading through the ingredients, I think she wouldn’t even need a sub for the chicken – also that might make stuffing them easier!
    P.S. I was totally surprised to learn that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had the best selling CD IN 2016!!! WHAAAAAT????!!!!
    Guess you can’t beat the classics eh?!
    Happy Happy Easter to you, Laura and Robbie – hoping Robbie has one epic egg hunt adventure – btw, is he gonna carry around that speaker while he goes egg hunting too? 🙂

    1. Why thank you very much, Shashi! I love weaving (or trying to weave) fun stories into posts. I find it much more entertaining to write (and read) posts when they have a little personal flare to ’em! Oh man, I can imagine lil Shashi jamming out to the mini boombox. Haha! So far Robbie hasn’t figured out electrical sockets, but I’m sure that isn’t far away. And yes…how’s that for a random bit of music trivia with Mozart claiming the top album in 2016! (Sure, it’s fuzzy math…but it’s true nonetheless!) We had a great Easter weekend, and Robbie walked around carrying Laura’s phone all weekend…but the classical had switched back to bluegrass for the weekend. haha! Hope you two had a great Easter weekend, too! 🙂

  2. I’m so jealous of your ability to grow basil! I’ve killed more basil plants than I can count–NOT on purpose. My dream is to have pesto in the freezer year-round, made from basil I grew myself. . .someday. I’m pretty stunned that Mozart had the top-selling album last year; I find him far preferable to Bieber so my hat’s off to him :). This is one good-looking dish of manicotti, David! I hope you guys have a wonderful Easter. (And tell Robbie to throw a few elbows during the egg hunt. It’s not cheating if nobody sees. On second thought, don’t tell him that.)

    1. Really?!? Basil seems to be one of the few plants that I can’t kill! Maybe we’re just lucky with our weather up here? I’ve got plenty of it (or I will in about 3 months) so I’ll save some for you! 🙂 Are you trying to corrupt my son in an effort to win an Easter egg hunt? Well then I approve! Thanks so much, Kelsie. Hope you had a great weekend, and happy Monday my much-warmer San Diego friend!

  3. OMG – I’m smiling right now thinking of all the cuteness going on with Robbie playing with his barn yard setting listening to classical music!! What good taste he has! Who would have thunk it to Mozart beat Adele? A classic is a classic for good reason, I say! And that box set? Whoa…that’s a lot of music! Now this recipe – you must have made this dish for me, did you? So many delicious flavours going on here with the pesto, the chicken, the pasta – where to start? Hmmmm, I’ll take your suggestion and start with some music (I like Frank Sinatra) and then some vino and then a fork 🙂 Love it! Happy Easter and have lots of fun egg hunting this weekend with Robbie!

    1. Oh man, if you could’ve only seen Robbie and his barnyard! He learned how to make the horse noise (by opening the gate), and then he sat there and did that all weekend long! Now you’re talking when you bring up pasta, vino and Sinatra…it’s like those 3 were made to go together! We did indeed have a great Easter weekend here. (It was randomly very warm…almost hot.) Hope you guys had a great one, too! Thanks, Dawn!

  4. Robbie loves bluegrass because it’s great! When I was in high school I would rush home to watch the Country Music Channel which is isn’t normal in California. I forgot all about the music channels on my tv. Thanks for reminding. I love making pesto, but you have to make it in big batches so I have some leftover spinach pesto in my freezer. I’ve never made manicotti but it sure does look delicious David. The new guy I’m dating is addicted to pasta, I know he will love this recipe. I can totally imagine adorable little Robbie popping around to Classical Music and playing with his new barnyard toy set.

    1. Hahaha…I used to rush home to watch the Mario Bros. cartoon. (I recently watched an episode on YouTube. It was terrible.) And you rushed home to watch country music…I love it! I agree with you on pesto and big batches. That’s why I like to freeze mine in ice cube trays and then empty the frozen cubes into a big freezer bag. It’s like a bomb of flavor to add to anything from pasta to soup to whatever. Manicotti really is easy to make…give it a shot! Oh wait. New guy you’re dating??? Yay, Mary! I hope to hear more details about this one soon. 🙂

  5. ‘Mozart’ was not the answer I was expecting, lol! I love that Robbie has such a broad love of music. That will bring him happiness his whole life!

    Keith and I would be all over this manicotti – full of things we love!

    Have a wonderful Easter!

    1. Tell me about, Marissa! Who would’ve thought that Mozart managed to have the best selling album in 2016!? I mean the math is a bit fuzzy, but nevertheless Mozart brought home the title! Robbie is all over the board in terms of music tastes. This past weekend, he was jamming out to bluegrass while we sat on the back deck! Thank you so much for the comment, and I hope you + Keith had a great Easter weekend!

  6. I really can’t remember the last time I actually bought a real CD. $500 is a bit over my music budget anyway! I love your pesto bombs and this manicotti was certainly a fab idea to use some! I love the idea of little Robbie cruising around with a portable speaker blasting out some bluegrass! 🙂

    1. Oh my gosh…same here, Rachelle. It’s been years since I’ve bought a CD! We didn’t buy that Mozart collection…I mean I wouldn’t even know where to begin with that much classical music. I’m perfectly fine just streaming it on Pandora now and then. 🙂 You shoulda seen Robbie cruising around this weekend holding Laura’s phone and blasting the bluegrass! Hope you guys had a fun and relaxing weekend, my friend!

  7. I’m not surprised that classical music is popular, but this particular example really is interesting. Firstly, I mean, to beat Bieber…haha. Secondly, is the winner supposed to get any award/certificate for such an achievement? So many questions. However, there are questions when it comes to pasta, especially baked versions. Chicken + pesto+ricotta+more cheese =perfection, David!

    1. So I don’t think there is really any sort of trophy or certificate for best selling album of the year. I mean if there was, it would be pretty hard to give it to Mozart since he died in 1791! This pasta truly is delicious, Ben…it’s comfort food at it’s best! I hope you had a great holiday weekend, and happy Monday to you. (On second thought, I know you had a great weekend because I saw that monkey bread on your Instagram account! Thank you for that!)

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